Fort Pickens is one of the most popular Pensacola attractions, and this has a lot to do with the structure's interesting history. For starters, it was one of four US forts in the South to avoid Confederate occupation during the Civil War. You might also find it fascinating that the famous Apache leader Geronimo was imprisoned at Fort Pickens in the 1880s. History buffs aren't the only ones that are encouraged to visit this old fort, however, and thanks to all the great area attractions and activity options, you can really make a day of it when dropping by.
Fort Pickens is one of four forts that were built to help defend Western Florida's Pensacola Bay. Work on the original structure began in 1829, and it wasn't finished until 1834. The War of 1812 was a big inspiration for the fort being built, much as it was for the building of other forts around the country. The United States decided that fortifying its major ports was a good idea in response to this famous war that pitted the relatively new nation against its former ruler, the British Empire.
Of the four forts that were built on Pensacola Bay, Fort Pickens was the largest. Thanks to advancements in warfare technology, it was altered over the years, and after WWII, it finally became obsolete. In 1971, Fort Pickens became part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. After an extensive renovation period that lasted from 1971 to 1976, it has been open to the public. Among the main things that visitors can expect to see on a tour of this historic structure are ten concrete gun batteries that were built between the 1890s and the 1940s. General tours of the site are offered daily at 2 p.m., and they focus primarily on the fort's human history. You don't have to pay extra to enjoy these guided tours, and they last about 45 minutes.
The location of Fort Pickens is the west end of Santa Rosa Island. The immediate area was formerly known as Fort Pickens State Park, and while that name is no longer official, it is still used. You can find campsites near the historic fort should you wish to stay overnight while visiting the area. These campsites are mostly part of the 200-site Fort Pickens Campground. There is also a group tent site nearby for those who might need it. Fees for a main campground site include access to picnic tables, water, electricity, grills, and fire rings. General facilities include dump stations, a campground store, and restrooms. Those who wish to secure the group camping site near Fort Pickens should know that it is a tent-only site that lacks electricity.
Some wonderful Pensacola beaches call the Gulf Islands National Seashore home, so you can consider having some fun in the sun when you're not taking a tour of Fort Pickens. Other activities that can be enjoyed when visiting this twelve-unit park are hiking and fishing, and that's just the start, so keeping busy won't be hard during a Fort Pickens Campground stay. If you prefer staying in a hotel, the Pensacola area is home to a healthy number of dandies, so you shouldn't have trouble finding your ideal lodging fit.